2022 Race 11, Helotes Beer Garden 5K

Photos are here:


BEFORE MY START:  My 11th race of 2022 was the Helotes Beer Garden 5K held on March 12 in Helotes Texas, – Old Town Helotes, the historic part of this little city. Put on by Soler Sports – Race Director Lisa Soler – this is a very popular event that features several breweries post-race and free samples of their wares, and several other kinds of vendors.  The event had a very nice turn-out for a cold morning, with 622 total finishers. And a cold morning it was.  After a pretty mild weather week, Mother Nature once again sent us a weekend cold blast.  Temp at the start was in the upper 30s, which is cold for we South Texans, and considering that on Thursday when I did a training run it was 74 degrees. Crazy Texas weather. Thankfully, we had a bright day with lots of sunshine and no wind so that helped. I dressed in a few layers and brough a dry base-layer shirt to change into post-race. Race start time of 8 a.m.  The staging area was in a grassy area alongside of Old Bandera Road just a bit down from where the old Soler Sports store used to be.  I arrived with about 30 minutes to go to start time and got a few photos before I peeled off my outer layers and was ready to go at start time. The race started exactly on time at 8:30 a.m. 

ON THE COURSE – The usual course for this event was not used since some closures of those streets this year was not allowed. Thus the route we took had us exiting the off-road field area and then making a right turn onto Old Bandera Road.  We went up to a traffic circle, did a loop around that and headed back onto Old Bandera Road. We then proceeded down a long incline/hill, and then it was uphill to just short of being in front of the El Chapparal restaurant. We did a turn-round at some cones and then back the way we had come out. We reached the traffic circle for a second time where we made a right turn, proceeding on this road (I forget the name of it) that took us past a school and a church.  When we reached a turn-round on this road, we went back the way we had come out.  Back at the traffic circle again, this time making a right turn and heading down towards Highway 16 (I think it’s highway 16) to another turnround  Then back to that darn traffic circle –  which I think I can describe by heart now, lol – and then onto Old Bandera Road again, taking the same route we had started out on -going down that first incline, then up again to the turn-round near El Chapparal, and then back to the start/finish line.  We had 5 total turn-rounds on this course.  It sounds pretty boring, but actually it was not at all. I actually liked this course better than the original one.  A couple of the hills were a long climb, but not as steep as the original course, and the good news about all these turn-rounds is you see a lot more of your fellow runners and friends along the way, which made the participant camaraderie really great, with lots of cheering each other on.  I behaved this time and took all my walk breaks (because of this darn spinal arthritis, can’t run nonstop anymore) and even a couple extra ones to get a couple more photos.  I ended up with a chip time of 39:50, 14th out of 19 in my 60 – 69 age group and met my 2 primary race goals: finish standing up and no ambulance waiting for me at the finish.  Anything I get after that – age group award, finisher medal, whatever – is a bonus, lol.

AFTER MY FINISH – One heck of a party after the event. It kind of reminded me of the Scallywompus after-parties, but a bit on a smaller scale. It was really nicely done. I got out of my wet shirts and put my dry ones on and then had a wonderful time wandering around, taking photos, sampling some goodies, and chatting with friends.  I finally left around 11 a.m. and the party was still going pretty strong. As noted, this is a very popular annual 5K.  

Epilogue – Very nicely done by Race Director Lisa Soler, Soler Sports, all her volunteers, and iaap with the timing and results. The age group awardees got a really nice placer medal. Very nice quality tech-tee race shirt too.  Several people also wore costumes for this event – I believe there was a costume contest – and some of them were quite inventive and very amusing. Besides all the breweries representing their products, there were also many other booths with various kinds of goodies and there was a food truck on location too that was doing a pretty brisk business.  As for the course, as noted, I actually like this one better than the original; it seems more ‘user-friendly’ and appeared to me to get more participants interacting with each other with all those out-and-backs and turn-rounds. I would definitely recommend this race to others and most certainly will do it again myself. MUCHO THANKS TO:  All the people that made this one happen for us: Lisa Soler, Soler Sports and all the many volunteers and people involved with laying out the course, packet pickups, etc.; the police officers (I think there were two) on the course for our safety; iaap for the timing and results; all the sponsors and vendors involved who donated /were out there for us – including the Top Sponsor, Stout House of Helotes, where pre-race day packet pickup was; a nice place to go, very friendly environment with very friendly staff;  our music and sound guys, and our MC; and anyone else I may not have mentioned here. Thank you all so much!      

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